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Abstract

Throughout adolescence and early adulthood, talented athletes must dedicate increasing personal resources to their sport. Recent empirical research found that applying Role Strain Theory (RST) was useful to contextualise international junior golfers’, acrobats’, gymnasts’ and Australian Rules footballers’ experiences of how they combined and coped with the competing role demands of sport and education. Findings demonstrated how role strain (RS) severity and regularity fluctuated during their youth careers but subsided during the latter teenage years. Surprisingly, limited research exploring how youth academy footballers simultaneously combine sport, education and social demands exists. This study determined the extent to which RS was experienced by six high performing male youth footballers who each had between four and five consecutive years’ experience within the foundation and youth development stage squads at an English professional football academy. Implications for most effectively supporting elite level youth players during crucial developmental and transitional career stages are provided.

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